My return to college ended on a high note

I couldn't have ended my return to college on a high note if it hadn't been for my daughter and a supportive husband. With their help, my cumulative grade is now a 3.6. Homework help included reading text to me while I drove to school, assisting with homework and repeatedly helping me find my classes.

It's been about 25 years since my first college experience. Higher education has undergone substantial changes. Everything from registration to financial aid is computerized. Getting correct answers to administrative questions about things like financial aid can be difficult. However, paying the term bill is easier and the professors are more supportive than ever.

Going back to school is challenging in another way. Receiving a diagnosis of a couple learning disabilities earlier this year paved the way for accommodations. I failed math, but we now have a helpful strategy in place. (My final GPA wasn't effected since the course isn't college level.) It helped substantially that my daughter read chapters out loud to me while on the way to college. Hubby went to campus a few times to help me find the classes. My return to college wouldn't have been successful without their help, assistance with an accommodation plan and some very supportive professors.

My course load for next semester includes the dreaded math course, sociology and ceramics. Hopefully, math will improve. I'm upbeat about the other courses. The main challenge there will be to make it into ceramics by 9:00 am. That means leaving home by 7:30 am.

In the tradition of the younger college students, who needs to sleep anyway? I foresee lots of coffee in my future.


New news about a learning disability or two

Most of you know that I've returned to school after a 25 year absence. My struggles have led me to get some educational testing done. The results have revealed no one, but two learning disabilities. One was made worse by the head injury sustained in 1995. The other was probably caused by it. That this should be discovered after so many years is a very, very bitter pill to swallow.

Flowers on Lewis and Clark Trail
All classes are going well except for math. Algebra has never been my strong point. Many years were spent beating my head against the wall trying to learn the meaning behind PEMDAS. FOIL wasn't so much an acronym as it is something that leftovers are stored in.

My problem with math is much worse than in years past. Letters are getting jumbled up like never before. Columns blend together and the difference between positive and negative are blurring. It took me about an hour and a half to work 15 problems on my math exam last time and I still failed it. Where I struggled before, I now find it nearly impossible. College accommodations may be my only hope of passing.

Everything takes much more time now and things get mixed up easier. We've laughed for years at my ability to get lost in a building or going to work. I've told the kids to put the clothes in the dishwasher on several occassions. That's okay though. They can always put the dishes in the washing machine later.

The most bitter pill to swallow is the reason for the head injury. If you've read my blog, then you know that I was beaten and sexually assaulted in 1995. The educational testing indicates that the head injury is the reason for several of my difficulties today.

I'm putting this in the context of one more thing to add to the list. Foot drop, my back and other health challenges are just as important as dealing with the learning disabilities caused by the head injury. Don't get me wrong. I'm mad as hell over the injury. However, unlike rabidly high blood pressure or a severe asthma attack, the head injury probably won't kill me.

I have a life to live and plan to live it. If college can happen in spite of foot drop, or after my financial aid appeal was denied, then it can happen despite a learning disability or two. Math and a few other things may be more of a challenge now. The diagnosis only clarify what we already suspected. They don't change who I am and I'm trying not to let it hurt my outlook for the short term.

I feel that if my foot could relearn how to walk last year, then one year, I may learn to fly. You never know what the future holds. Learning disabilities, health challenges or not, faith is for believing and life is for living. Why do anything else?


Exiting early from a military concert is disrespectful and rude

The Army Field Band and Soldier's Chorus performed in the small town where I live. The high school gym doesn't have the best acoustics but the concert was excellent. Patriotic tunes and ragtime hits stole the show. The performers did their country proud. An encore of the Star Spangled Banner was performed that would have made John Phillips Sousa proud. However, I don't think that he would have been as proud of the audience.

I was saddened to see people leave during the encore. Exiting early from a military concert is disrespectful and rude. Except for the family with a crying child, there was no reason that all audience members couldn't have waited the few extra minutes that it took for the concert to end. It only took a few minutes to leave the high school parking lot after the concert.

Leaving early wasn't simply wrong, but those who left missed a real treat.